Gone Girl: Editing a Hollywood Feature with Adobe Premiere
COW Library : Adobe Premiere Pro : Kylee Peña : Gone Girl: Editing a Hollywood Feature with Adobe Premiere
Opening to rave reviews and some major box office buzz, David Fincher's Gone Girl is the latest in a series of critically acclaimed films from the director, but marks several firsts for the post production team: the first film shot entirely in 6K, and the first studio feature edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) finds himself the chief suspect behind the shocking disappearance of his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), on their fifth anniversary. Photo: Merrick Morton
Fincher's post production team is lead by two-time Academy-award winning editor Kirk Baxter ACE and includes his long time assistant editor Tyler Nelson, post-production supervisor Peter Mavromates and post-production engineer Jeff Brue. Together, they developed a post pipeline that would serve the 6K workflow from set to finish, working closely with Adobe to push the software to their needs and add more features along the way, many of which are included in the latest Premiere Pro CC update.
On first glance, it seems it would be a challenge to get a director and studio on board with a workflow that wasn't tried and tested but as Nelson noted, the studio was on board completely. "Fincher was the champion behind making Premiere happen."
Ben Affleck rehearses a scene with director David Fincher on the set of GONE GIRL. Photo: Merrick Morton
Known for his technical aptitude as a director, Fincher's other recent films utilized similarly challenging post production workflows that included Premiere Pro in some way. But for The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, editorial work primarily happened in Final Cut Pro 7, with Premiere Pro being used as an intermediate to get to After Effects, where they conformed and onlined the movies from DPX image sequences.
In house visual effects have become a vital part of the process, with over 200 shots being completed in house on Gone Girl. A major tipping point for swapping FCP7 for Premiere Pro? Dynamic link. "Dynamic link is a big enhancement, to have the ability to have compositing within Premiere", Nelson explained. While Baxter worked on the edit in his room, Nelson could bring a shot into After Effects for visual effects work, then save it and automatically update within Baxter's sequence, simplifying the editorial process and keeping projects cleaner and faster.
Rosamund Pike portrays Amy Dunne, whose mysterious disappearance turns her husband into a possible murder suspect. Photo by Merrick Morton
Besides supporting multiple users and visual effects, the team needed Premiere Pro to handle their other editorial needs. Gone Girl was shot at 6K on a RED Dragon (by director of photography Jeff Cronenweth, ASC) with creative editorial at 2054x1152 as offline ProRes422 LT with a viewable center extraction of 1920x800 in the timeline. This meant that the film – shot at 6K, framed for 5K, edited offline in 2.5K – was shot so that reframing and stabilization in post would be part of the overall workflow for maximum flexibility. The film was conformed by nesting After Effects projects on a Premiere timeline.
As her marriage flounders, Amy (Rosamund Pike) expresses her thoughts in a diary. Photo by Merrick Morton
"Our goal was to get as many iterations as possible of the opticals and visual effects in a given period of time to make the story as good as we could," said Brue. "The ask was for nothing less than perfection, which pushed us to do better. When it came down to it, Adobe Premiere Pro CC was faster than anything else on market. That speed meant more iterations, more time to work on a shot and more time to perfect an edit."
Detectives Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) and Boney (Kim Dickens) search for clues as they investigate a woman's disappearance. Photo: Merrick Morton
The post-production team used both 2011 Mac Pros and HPZ820 workstations with NVIDIA Quadro GPUs (including the new K5200) for offline and conform, to allow for multiple streams of 6K playback and real time downconversion from 6K to 4K. Shared storage was provided by Open Drives, with the offline system containing 36TB of SSDs (and 60TB of hard drives) connected via 10Gbe ports. For reference, a single stream of 24fps 6K from the Dragon requires 1.8GBps of bandwidth.
Neil Patrick Harris portrays Desi, a spoiled rich guy who has long harbored a crush on a woman who has suddenly disappeared. Photo: Merrick Morton
When it was first announced that Kirk Baxter was editing Gone Girl entirely on Premiere Pro last spring, the news was met with a few naysayers suggesting that it was a stunt, or that the real work would be done elsewhere. But looking at Fincher's post production track record and the time savings involved with near-zero latency for playback and instantly updating timelines, it's clear that Gone Girl and Premiere Pro was the obvious partnership for a team growing their workflow, and for a company continually enhancing their product.
The post team worked closely with Adobe to push the limits of the software. Nelson commented, "We knew there might be pitfalls but they would be fixed. We had their ear." Brue added, "Adobe's vision of where the whole ecosystem needs to go with collaboration is truly a unique thing. They're open to the conversation."
All images: ™ and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication. Photos by Merrick Morton.